Admiral Sir C. H. (Charles Howe) Fremantle, Diary & Letters of Admiral Sir C.H. Fremantle, G.C.B. Relating to the Founding of the Colony of Western Australia 1829. Edited by Admiral Fremantle’s great-nephew, John Walgrave Halford Fremantle, the fourth Lord Cottesloe. Printed by Hazell, Watson & Viney Ltd, London & Aylesbury, 1928, for private circulation. Limited edition. Octavo, 22.6 x 15 cm, original green cloth boards with paper title label on front cover a little faded and soiled but fully intact, Lewis bookplate of D.H. McInnes with line illustration of HM Bark Endeavour, frontispiece portrait of Fremantle from an oil painting at Swanbourne, Buckinghamshire, map, Editor’s presentation label on front pastedown (“With Lord Cottesloe’s Compliments”) pages opened but page edges uncut, 94 pages, one full-page map, biographical note, text in four parts.
Sir Charles Howe Fremantle (1800-1869), from an illustrious British naval family, was the second of four Fremantle Royal Navy Admirals in the 19th and 20th centuries. His father, Thomas Fremantle (1765-1819), was a close friend and naval colleague of Admiral Lord Nelson. Commanding the 98-gun second-rater Neptune, Thomas Fremantle engaged at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805) as third in line, behind Nelson’s Victory and the Temeraire, immortalised in JMW Turner’s 1839 painting The Fighting Temeraire. After the Neptune’s outstandingly successful role in the battle, with relatively light casualties, Thomas Fremantle towed Nelson’s crippled Victory back to Gibraltar.
Charles Howe Fremantle was born at the Buckinghamshire family seat, Swanbourne House, dating from the late 16th century and extended and modified in the 18th and 19th centuries. He was the second son of Thomas Fremantle and his wife, the diarist Elizabeth (Betsey) Wynne. The Wynne Diaries, from 1789 to 1857, run to 41 manuscript volumes, filled with vivid accounts of her family’s lives in England, Germany and Italy. The diaries were first published in the 1930s. Charles was given his middle name as a consequence of his birthday falling on the anniversary of Admiral Lord Richard Howe’s engagement with the French at the ‘Battle of the Glorious First of June’ in 1794 near the island of Ushant, off the far western tip of mainland France. It was the largest early fleet action involving Britain and the French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars. At the age of 10, in 1810, Charles Fremantle went to sea with his father Thomas, who was by then Rear-Admiral Fremantle, who was Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean, when he died in 1819. Charles, soon serving under Nelson’s Flag Captain Thomas Hardy, was appointed Commander in 1822, promoted to Captain in 1826 and in 1828 was given command of the 26-gun frigate HMS Challenger, sent in March 1829 from the Cape of Good Hope, anchoring in Cockburn Sound, western Australia, on 2 May. Charles Fremantle landed on Garden Island, hoisting the British flag at the mouth of the Swan River, and took possession in the name of King George IV of that part of New Holland not included in the territory of New South Wales. Fremantle spent the next month mapping and exploring.
Lieut.-Governor James Stirling arrived at Cockburn Sound on 2 June on the Parmelia with his family and a small group of settlers to establish a Colony at the Swan River, and they were joined within a week by a 56-man military detachment which disembarked from HMS Sulphur. On 17 June Stirling read out a Proclamation confirming Fremantle’s act of possession. Fremantle left the Colony on 25 August 1829 for the British base at Trincomalee, Ceylon (Sri Lanka). For three years from 1829, he also visited many Indian Ocean ports and as far afield as China. Fremantle’s recommendation to the Admiralty that it establish a base at Kowloon led to the British settlement of Hong Kong in 1841. Fremantle made his only return visit to the Swan River Colony in September 1832, after which he returned to England via New Zealand, Tahiti, the Pitcairn Islands and Valparaiso, arriving in Portsmouth in mid-1833. Late in 1836, with the Rev. W.R. Fremantle officiating, he married Isabella, the wealthy widow of a member of the influential Wedderburn family, and spent the next decade ashore on half-pay.
Following ship commands in the Mediterranean and the West Indies in the 1840s, Fremantle was appointed in 1853 Captain of HMS Juno on the Australia Station. In 1854 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and in 1855 was controlling naval transport from Balaklava in the Crimean War; awarded Commander of the Bath in 1857; and annexed the Cocos Islands in 1857 on Admiralty instructions, appointing Clunies Ross as Governor. In 1858 Fremantle was made Commander-in-Chief of the Channel Squadron; promoted to Vice Admiral in 1860; appointed Commander-in-Chief Plymouth in 1863; promoted to Admiral in 1864; and made Knight Grand Cross of the Bath in 1867. Refusing to retire, Freemantle remained nominally on the active list, eventually heading the list of Admirals. He is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. The city of Fremantle in Western Australia is named after him.
John Walgrave Halford Fremantle (1900-1994), the Editor of the Diary & Letters of Admiral Sir C.H. Fremantle, was the fourth Baron Cottesloe and fifth Baron Fremantle, G.B.E. (Knight Grand Cross), T.D. (Territorial Decoration), son of Colonel Thomas Fremantle and his wife Frances Tapling, a prominent industrialist’s daughter. John Fremantle was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (graduating M.A. in 1925), and was in the victorious Cambridge Boat Race crews of 1921 and 1922. He was a Royal Artillery Lieut.-Colonel (1939-1965, serving in WWII); Conservative member for Hampstead, London County Council (1945-1955); Deputy Lieutenant of London (1951-1976); and Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain (1960-1965) and Chairman of the South Bank Theatre Board. The Cottesloe, one of the three theatres at London’s National Theatre, was named in his honour. He divorced his first wife, Lady Elizabeth Harris, the daughter of the fifth Earl of Malmesbury, in 1944 and remarried in 1959. The Perth WA suburb of Cottesloe was named for the brother of Admiral Sir Charles Fremantle. The nearby suburb of Swanbourne was named for the Fremantle family seat.
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